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Have you ever been afraid of something? We all have, but having a refuge or a place where we feel safe gives us confidence and allows space for wisdom to help fight fear.

Sometimes the fear is more innocent, like being afraid of the dark as a kid, and sometimes it’s something more significant, something almost debilitating. King David and his army had something real to be afraid of, and we’re going to unpack how they reacted.

Psalm 11
1 For the director of music. Of David. In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bends their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
3. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Let’s give some context to this passage.

To flee like a bird. All we have to do to get rid of an entire flock of birds in our front yard is to open the front door, and immediately they’re gone. They spook easily, and so their default and primitive response is to fly away as fast as they can and not come back. It’s reactionary.

Maybe we judge these people too harshly, and it’s easy for us to judge them by saying something like, yeah, man, you need to trust God and hold onto Him. #JesusIsMyAnchor. You got this!

All of those bumper-sticker slogans fade out of mind when you’re faced with the situation David and his men were:

Just look at the imagery of what they’re dealing with:

  1. Bent bows with arrows on the string shooting from the shadows and aimed at the righteous (those who did nothing wrong).  
    The modern-day equivalent to bent bows with arrows on the string is a loaded gun with a round in the chamber, and the hammer cocked.   
  2. Shooting from the shadows – this is not a fair fight. There’s an enemy you can’t see, but it’s there watching and waiting.

David and his army had done nothing but serve Saul well. They defeated army after army and returned to Saul with all the spoils.

And here they are being hunted down by him because he’s jealous of David’s successes. And here’s where it gets real for us. Why God? How many times have you asked that question?

Why God?

Why me?

Why this?

Saul’s fight is against the righteous. The ones upright in heart with pure motivations.

Why God? Why are those trying to do good in this world and their communities being targeted? Why are the purveyors of hope and peace and those who do so well caring for their people attacked by them? Why on earth are they targeted?

As followers of Jesus, we have targets on our backs because, as the righteous, upright, purveyors of love, joy, hope, and peace, we are also purveyors of truth, morality, and virtue.

If the unrighteous cannot bring the righteous down to their level of debauchery and vice, if they cannot cause us to stumble and fall, what that suggests to them is that they might be wrong. To suggest that they might be wrong, they consider that an attack on themselves. Now, they’re afraid.

And so, to get rid of that fear, they try to turn it back on us by punishing the just and the righteous by canceling their voice, mocking their opinions, and attacking their character.

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?    

David and his men lost their homes, businesses, families, land, personal property, money, and valuables. Basically, anything we could have insurance on today. They had nothing to draw from. Everything that used to give this army strength, both physically and psychologically, was gone. And they don’t know for sure if they’ll ever get it back. When the foundations of anything are being destroyed, the battle for it is already lost.

But here’s David’s response:

Psalm 11
4 The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; His eyes examine them.
5 The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, He hates with passion.
6 On the wicked He will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
7 For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face.

One of the attributes of God that David relied so heavily on, but we don’t contemplate on nearly enough, is His sovereignty. He rules over everything and everyone. There is nothing that His eyes do not see, nor His ears do not hear. He misses nothing.

David writes that God is holy and He’s righteous. So, you have a holy, righteous God who sees everything and rules over everything. THAT should make everyone afraid. In fact, it’s the only thing we should be afraid of. The one command that’s repeated more than any other is do not be afraid.

However, we’re also told throughout the Bible to fear God. Proverbs 9 says that wisdom begins with the fear of God. And that is true.

God’s justice is not like ours. Our sense of justice is an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. Let the punishment fit the crime. And when we take matters into our own hands, we might get results. But it’s never good, proper, or correct because it’s not pure or perfect. Because we’re not.

We like justice because it scratches the itch of vengeance. God likes justice because He is righteous and holy.    

And so, it is a requirement of one who is just to also be righteous and holy. That pretty much takes all of us out of that category because we aren’t God. That’s why David is so intent on teaching his men that it is God who will be their justice. And he points back to a time when God intervened on His own behalf. Sodom and Gomorrah.

Whenever you battle, whatever wrong is being done to you, whatever threat may be against you, our God, who is holy and righteous and whose justice is perfect, is seated on His heavenly throne in His holy temple.

And He sees you. He sees everyone, both the wicked and the righteous. And just like David, we can trust that God will fight our battles for us. That’s a kind of confidence that money can’t buy. No insurance policy can give you this level of comfort and peace.

And David closes with a word of comfort for those who are still afraid: “The upright will see His face.” You have His favor. You have His blessing.

Matthew 5
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Those who wait on and trust in God’s justice rather than taking matters into their own hands will serve God.

Stay in a posture of prayer, hands outstretched and surrendered to His will and timing, and let Him take up your cause.

So, ask yourself… What’s your refuge? Where does your security come from? What’s your posture? Are you in a posture to see God’s face? Are you looking for an answer or for Him?

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